JEFFERSON — The claims made by former Marion County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tina Harris about her arrest last month on a charge of theft from Walmart in Marshall differ from the statements made by the responding Marshall police officer, according to the probable cause for arrest affidavit from Harrison County.
Harris, who was hired by the Chamber in February just before the COVID-19 shutdown, is no longer employed at the Chamber.
Chamber President Christy Burleson would not say if Harris, 51, was fired or resigned but only referred to Harris as the “former” executive director.
A probable cause for Harris’ arrest obtained from the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office outlined a different chain of events that led to Harris’ arrest on June 10 at Walmart in Marshall than Harris herself had previously claimed.
“On June 10, at about 6:55 p.m., I was dispatched to Walmart in reference to a shoplifter,” the officer wrote. “The complainant informed me that (Harris) did not scan multiple items while using a self-checkout register. I watched Walmart’s video surveillance footage which showed Harris bagging multiple items without scanning them.....The total amount of the stolen merchandise was $468.73.”
Unlike Harris’ previous claims that she mistakenly forgot to scan two packages of cokes on the bottom of her buggy, the Marshall Police Officer states in his arrest affidavit that Harris was caught on the store’s surveillance cameras bagging multiple items that she did not scan while checking herself out at the self-checkout register.
“I spent $111 and missed the drinks on the bottom at self checkout,” Harris said last month after the arrest. “I offered to pay and they refused, saying they were going to make an example out of me. They refunded my $111 and then added the two 12-packs of drinks I forgot to scan so that the total was now over $100 so that I could be arrested.”
Also unlike Harris’ previous claims, the officer’s total amount of stolen items differed greatly from Harris’ as she stated her total was $111, of which, just the cost of the forgotten cokes were added to her total to make the theft charge an offense warranting an arrest. The Marshall police officer stated the total amount of goods was about $468.
Harris was arrested on a charge of theft of property less than $750 but more than $100 and booked into the Harrison County Jail where she bonded out the next day on a $2,000 bond.
The News-Messenger reached out to Harris to discuss the difference between her claims and the police officer’s on her arrest affidavit and she refused to comment, other than to say she has hired an attorney. Harris refused to release her attorney’s name to the News-Messenger.
The News-Messenger has reached out to Walmart’s corporate office for a copy of the store’s surveillance footage, as well as a comment about the practice of “skip bagging,” a process when customers reportedly scan every second or third item they bag. A Walmart media representative said this week the company had no further comment.
The News-Messenger has also submitted a Freedom of Information request to Marshall Police Department requesting the Walmart store’s surveillance footage, the police officer’s body camera footage and the arrest report. Marshall Police Department declined all parts of the FOI request citing an ongoing investigation.